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Full text of "Ernst Junger: The Figure of The Worker Between the Gods & the Titans"

Ernst Jiinger: The Figure of The Worker Between the Gods & the Titans 

By Alain de Benoist 

Translated by Greg Johnson 

http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/04/ernst-iunger-the-fiRure-of-the-worker-part-l/ 

http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/04/ernst-junger-figure-of-the-worker-part-2/ 

http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/07/ernst-junger-the-figure-of-the-worker-between-the-gods-t 

he-titans-part-3/ 



PARTI 

Armin Mohler, author of the classic The Conservative Revolution in Germany, 1918-1932, wrote 
regarding Ernst Junger's The Worker (Der Arbeiter) and the first edition of The Adventurous 
Heart: "To this day, my hand cannot take up these works without trembling." Elsewhere, 
describing The Worker as an "erratic bloc" in the midst of Junger's works, he states: "The 
Worker is more than philosophy, it is a work of poetry."[l] The word is apt, above all if we 
admit that that all true poetry is foundational, that it simultaneously captures the world and 
unveils the divine. 

A "metallic" book — one is tempted to use the expression "storm of steel" to describe it — The 
Worker indeed possesses a genuinely metaphysical quality that takes it well beyond the historical 
and especially political context in which it was born. Not only has its publication marked an 
important day in the history of ideas, but it provides a theme of reflection that runs like a hidden 
thread throughout Junger's long life. 

I. 

Ernst Jiinger was born on March 28th, 1895 in Heidelberg. [2] Jiinger went to school in Hannover 
and Schwarzenberg, in the Erzgebirge, then in Brunswick and finally in Hannover again, as well 
as the Scharnhorst Realschule in Wunstorf. In 191 1 he joined the Wunstdorf section of the 
Wandervogel.[3] That same year published his first poem, "Unser Leben," in their local journal. 
In 1913 at the age of 16, he left home. His escapade ended in Verdun, where he joined the 
French Foreign Legion. A few months later, after a brief sojourn in Algeria, where his training 
began at Siddi bel Abbes, his father was able to persuade him to return to Germany. He resumed 
his studies at the Hannover Guild Institute, where he became familiar with the works of 
Nietzsche. 

The First World War broke out on August 1st, 1914. Jiinger volunteered on the first day. 
Assigned to the 73rd regiment of fusiliers, he received his marching orders on October 6th. On 
December 27th, he left for the front in Champagne. He fought at Dorfes-les-Epargnes, at 
Douchy, at Money. He became squad leader in August 1915, sub-lieutenant in November, and 
from April 1916 underwent officer training at Croisilles. Two months later, he took part in the 
engagements on the Somme, where he was twice wounded. Upon his return to the front in 



November, with the rank of lieutenant, he was wounded again near Saint-Pierre- Vaast. On 
December 16th he received the Iron Cross First Class. In February 1917, he became 
Stosstruppfuehrer (leader of an assault battalion). This is when the war bogged down while the 
human costs became terrifyingly immense. The French prepared Nivelle's bloody and useless 
offensive on the Chemin des Dames. At the head of his men, Jiinger fought hand to hand in the 
trenches. Endless battles, new wounds: in July on the front in Flanders, and also in December. 
Jiinger was decorated with the Knight's Cross of the Oder of the Hohenzollerns. During the 
offense of March 1918, he again led assault troops. He was wounded. In August, another wound, 
this time near Cambrai. He ended the war in a military hospital, having been wounded fourteen 
times! That earned him the Cross Pour le merite, the highest award in the German army. Only 
twelve subaltern officers of the ground forces, one the future Marshal Rommel, received this 
decoration during the whole First World War. 

"One lived for the Idea alone." 

Between 1918 and 1923, in the barracks at Hannover, Jiinger began to write his first books, 
inspired by his experiences at the front. In Storms of Steel (In Stahlgewittern), first published in 
1919 by the author and in a new edition in 1922, was an immediate success. There followed 
Battle as Inner Experience (Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis) (1922), Copse 125: A Chronicle 
from the Trench Warfare of 1918 (Das Waldchen 125) (1924), and Fire and Blood (Feur und 
Blut) (1925). Very quickly, Jiinger was recognized as one of the most brilliant writers of his 
generation, even though, as Henri Plard points out in "The Career of Ernst Jiinger, 1920-1929," 
in Germanic Studies, April-June 1978), he first became known primarily as a specialist in 
military problems thanks to articles on modern warfare published in Militdr-Wochenblatt. 

But Jiinger did not feel at home in a peacetime army. It no longer offered adventure of the 
Freikorps. In 1923 he left the Reichswehr and entered Leipzig University to study biology, 
zoology, and philosophy. On August 3rd, 1925 he married the 19 year old Gretha von Jeinsen. 
She gave him two children: Ernst in 1926 and Alexander in 1934. 

At same time, his political ideas matured thanks to the veritable cauldron of agitation among the 
factions of German public opinion: the disastrous Treaty of Versailles, which the Weimar 
Republic had accepted without batting an eye at any of its clauses, was everywhere felt to be an 
unbearable Diktat. In the space of a few months Jiinger had become one of the principal 
representatives of the national-revolutionary movement, an important part of the Conservative 
Revolution which extended to the "left" with the National Bolshevik movement rallying 
primarily around Ernst Niekisch. 

Jiinger's political writings appeared during the central period of the Republic (the "Stresemann 
era"), a provisional period of respite and apparent calm which ended in 1929. He would later say: 
"One lived for the Idea alone."[4] 

Initially, his ideas were expressed in journals. In September 1925, a former Freikorps leader, 
Helmut Franke, who has just published a book entitled Staat im Staate (Berlin: Stahlhelm, 1924), 
launched the journal Die Standarte which set out to "contribute towards a spiritual deepening of 
the thought of the Front." Jiinger was on the editorial board, along with another representative of 
"soldatic nationalism," the writer Franz Schauwecker, born in 1890. Initially published as a 
supplement of the weekly magazine Der Stahlhelm, the organ of the association of war veterans 



also called Stahlhelm,[5] directed by Wilhelm Kleinau, Die Standarte had a considerable 
circulation: approximately 170,000 readers. Between September 1925 and March 1926, Jiinger 
published nineteen articles there. Helmut Franke signed his contributions with the pseudonym 
"Gracchus." The whole anti-revolutionary young right published there: Werner Beumelburg, 
Franz Schauwecker, Hans Henning von Grote, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinz, Goetz Otto Stoffregen, 
etc. 

In Die Standarte Jiinger immediately adopted a quite radical tone, very different from that of 
most Stahlhelm members. In an article published in October 1925, he criticized the theory of the 
"stab in the back" (Dolchstoss), which was accepted by almost all nationalists, namely that the 
German army was not defeated at the front but by a "stab in the back" at home. Jiinger also 
emphasized that certain revolutionaries of the far left had fought with distinction in the war. [6] 
Remarks of this kind caused a violent uproar. Quickly, the leaders of Stahlhelm moved to 
distance themselves from the young writer who had agitated their side. 

In March 1926 Die Standarte was closed. But it was revived a month later under the abridged 
name Standarte with Jiinger, Schauwecker, Kleinau, and Franke as co-editors. At this time, the 
ties with Stahlhelm were not entirely severed: the old soldiers continued to indirectly finance 
Standarte. Jiinger and his friends reaffirmed their revolutionary calling. On June 3rd, 1926, 
Jiinger published an appeal to all former front soldiers to unite for the creation of a "nationalist 
workers' republic," a call that found no echo. [7] 

In August, at the urging of Otto Horsing, co-founder of the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot Gold, the 
Social Democrats' security force, the government, using the pretext of an article about Walther 
Rathenau, banned Standarte for five months. Because of this, Franz Seldte the leader of 
Stahlhelm "decommissioned" its chief editor, Helmut Franke. In solidarity, Jiinger quit, and in 
November the two, along with Wilhelm Weiss, became the editors of another journal, Arminius. 
(Standarte, under different editorship, continued until 1929.) 

En 1927, Jiinger left Leipzig for Berlin, where he formed close ties with former Freikorps 
members and with the young "bundisch" movement. The latter, oscillating between military 
discipline and a very firm esprit de corps, tried to reconcile the adventurous romanticism of the 
Wandervogel with a more hierarchical, communitarian mode of organization. In particular, 
Jiinger was closely connected to Werner Lass, born in Berlin in 1902, who in 1924 had been the 
founder, with the old leader of the Rossbach Freikorps unit, of the Schilljugend (a youth 
movement named for major Schill, who was killed during the struggle for liberation against 
Napoleon's occupation). In 1927, Lass left Rossbach and lauched Freischar Schill, a bundisch 
group of which Jiinger rapidly became the mentor (Schirmherr). From October 1927 to March 
1928, Lass and Jiinger collaborated to publish the journal Der Vormarsch, created in June 1927 
by another famous Freikorps leader, captain Ehrhardt. 

Notes 

1. Preface to Marcel Decombis, Ernst Jiinger et la "{Conservative Revolution " (GRECE, 1975), 
8. 

2. The son of Ernst Georg Jiinger (1868-1943), a chemist and assistant to research chemist 
Viktor Meyer. He had one sister and five brothers, two of whom died very young. 



3. In 1901, a right-wing student named Karl Fischer organized the students at the gymnasium of 
Steglitz, near Berlin, into a movement of young protesters with idealistic and romantic 
tendencies, to whom he gave the name "WandervogeF ("birds of passage"). This movement, 
subsequently divided into many currents, gave birth to the Jugendbewegung (Youth Movement) 
and became widely known. In October 1913, the same year Junger joined, the Youth Movement 
organized (alongside the commemoration of the hundredth birthday of the "Battle of the 
Nations" near Leipzig) a great meeting at Hohen Meissner, close to Kassel. There several 
thousand young "WandervogeF discussed the problems of the movement, which was pacifist, 
nationalist, and populist in orientation. On the eve of the First World War, the Jugendbewegung 
counted approximately 25,000 members. After 1918, the movement could not regain its old 
cohesion, but its influence remained undeniable. On the Wandervogel, cf. epecially Hans Bliiher, 
Wandervogel. Geschichte einer Jugendbewegung, 2 vol. (Berlin-Tempelhof: Bernhard Weise, 
1912-1913); Fr. W. Foerster, Jugendseele, Jugendbewegung, Jugendziel (Miinchen-Leipzig: 
Rotapfel, 1923); Theo Herrle, Die deutsche Jugendbewegung in ihren kulturellen 
Zusammenhdngen (Gotha-Stuttgart: Friedrich Andreas Perthes, 1924); Heinrich Ahrens, Die 
deutsche Wandervogelbewegung von den Anfdngen bis zum Weltkrieg (Hamburg: Hansischer 
Gildenverlag, 1939); Werner Kindt, ed., Grundschriften der deutschen Jugendbewegung 
(Dusseldorf-Koln: Eugen Diederichs, 1963); Bernhard Schneider, Daten zur Geschichte der 
Jugendbewegung (Bad Godesberg: Voggenreiter, 1965); Walter Laqueur, Die deutsche 
Jugendbewegung. Eine historische Studie (Koln: Wissenschaft und Politik, 1978); Otto Neuloh 
and Wilhelm Zilius, Die Wandervogel. Eine empirisch-soziologische Untersuchung derfriihen 
deutschen Jugendbewegung (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1982). 

4. Journal, vol. 2, April 20th, 1943. 

5. The Stalhelm association had been founded at the end of 1918 by Franz Seldte, born in 
Magdeburg in 1882, in reaction to the November revolution. His orientation to the right was 
intensified the moment the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June of 1919. After the 
assassinnation of Walther Rathenau, in 1922, Stahlhelm was dissolved in Prussia but the ban was 
lifted the following year. In 1925, it had around 260,000 members. In 1933, Seldte was named 
Minister of Labor in Hitler's first cabinet. The National Socialist regime went on to force 
Stahlhelm's integration into the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Frontkampferbund (NSDFB). 
Theodor Duesterberg, Seldte's assistant since 1924, who had immediately abandoned his 
functions, was arrested and imprisoned in June 1934. In 1935, the "liquidation" of Stahlhelm was 
complete. Cf. on this subject: Wilhelm Kleinau, Soldaten der Nation. Die geschichtliche 
Sendung des Stahlhelm (Berlin: Stahlhelm, 1933); Franz Seldte, ed., Der NSDFB (Stahlhelm). 
Geschichte, Wesen und Aufgabe des Frontsoldatenbundes (Berlin: Freiheitsverlag, 1935); 
Theodor Duesterberg, Der Stahlhelm und Hitler (Wolfenbiittel-Hannover: Wolfenbiitteler 
Verlagsanstalt, 1949); and Volker R. Berghahn, Der Stahlhelm-Bund der Frontsoldaten 
(Diisseldorf: Droste, 1966). 

6. Ernst Junger, "Die Revolution," Die Standarte, 1, October 18, 1925. 

7. Cf. Louis Dupeux, Strategic communiste et dynamique conservatrice. Essai sur les difjerents 
sens de I 'expression «national-bolchevisme» en Allemagne, sous la Republique de Weimar, 
1919-1933 (Honore Champion, 1976), p. 313. 

Source: Alain de Benoist, "Ernst Junger: La Figure du Travailleur entre les Dieux et les Titans," 



Nouvelle Ecole No. 40 (Autumn 1983): 11-61. 

PART 2 

"Losing the War to Win the Nation" 

During this time Jiinger had a number of literary and philosophical influences. During the war, 
the experience of the front enabled him to resolve the triple influence of such late 19th century 
French writers as Huysmans and Leon Bloy, of a kind of expressionism that still shows up 
clearly in Battle as Inner Experience and especially in the first version of The Adventurous 
Heart, and of a kind of Baudelairian dandyism clearly present in Sturm, an early novel recently 
published. [1] 

Armin Mohler likens the young Jiinger to the Barres of Roman de I'Energie nationale: for the 
author of the Battle as Inner Experience, as for that of Scenes et doctrines du nationalisme, 
nationalism, a substitute religion, a mode of enlarging and strengthening the soul, results above 
all from a deliberate choice, the decisionist aspect of this orientation rising from the collapse of 
standards after the outbreak of the First World War. 

The influence of Spengler and Nietzsche is also evident. In 1929, in an interview given to an 
English journalist, Jiinger defined himself as a "disciple of Nietzsche," stressing that Nietzsche 
was the first to challenge the fiction of an abstract universal man, "sundering" this fiction into 
two concrete, diametrically opposed types: the strong and the weak. In 1922 Jiinger passionately 
read the first volume of The Decline of the West, then the second volume as soon as it was 
released in December of the same year, when he wrote Sturm. 

However, as we shall see, Jiinger was no passive disciple. He was far from following Nietzsche 
and Spengler in the totality of their positions. The decline of the west in his eyes was not an 
inescapable fate; there were other alternatives than simply acquiescing to the reign of "Caesars." 
In the same way, if Jiinger adopts Nietzsche's questioning, it was first and foremost to bring it to 
an end. 

Ultimately, the war represented the strongest influence. Jiinger initially drew the lesson of 
agonism from it. The war must cause passion, but not hatred: the soldier on the other side of the 
trenches is not an incarnation of evil, but a simple figure of momentary adversity. It is because 
there is no absolute enemy (Feind), but only an adversary (Gegner), that "combat is always 
something holy." Another lesson is that life is nourished by death and vice- versa: "The most 
precious knowledge that one acquired from the school of the war," Jiinger would write, "is that 
life, in its most secret heart, is indestructible" (Das Reich, I, October 1, 1930, 3). 

Granted, the war had been lost. But in virtue of the principle of the equivalence of contraries, this 
defeat also demanded a positive analysis. First, defeat or victory is not the most important issue 
of the war. Fundamentally activistic, the national revolutionist ideology professes a certain 
contempt of goals. One does not fight to attain victory, one fights to make war. Moreover, Jiinger 
claimed, "the war is less a war between nations, than a war between different kinds of men. In all 
the nations that took part in that war, there are both victors and vanquished" (Battle as Inner 
Experience). 



Better yet, defeat can become the ferment of a victory. It represents the very condition of this 
victory. As the epigraph of his book Aufbruch der Nation (Berlin: Frundsberg, 1930), Franz 
Schauwecker used this stunning phrase: "It was necessary for us to lose the war to win the 
nation." Perhaps remembering the words of Leon Bloy, "All that happens is worthy," Junger also 
says: "Germany was vanquished, but this defeat was salutary because it contributed to the 
destruction of the old Germany. ... It was necessary to lose the war to win the nation." 

Defeated by the allied coalition, Germany will be able to return to herself and change in a 
revolutionary way. The defeat must be accepted as a means of transmutation: in a 
quasi-alchemical way, the experience of the front must be "transmuted" in a new experience of 
the life of the nation. Such is the base of "soldatic nationalism." 

It was in the war, Junger continues, that German youth acquired "the assurance that the old paths 
no longer lead anywhere, and that it is necessary to blaze new ones." An irreversible rupture 
(Umbruch), the war abolished all old values. Any reactionary attitude, any desire to retrogress, 
became impossible. The energy that had been unleashed in a specific fight of and for the 
fatherland, can from now on serve the fatherland in another form. The war, in other words, 
furnished the model for the peace. In The Worker, one reads: "The battle front and the Labor 
front are identical" (p. 109). 

The central idea is that the war, superficially meaningless though it may appear, actually has a 
deep meaning. This cannot be grasped by rational investigation but only by feeling (ahnen). The 
positive interpretation that Junger gives war is not, contrary to what is too often asserted, 
primarily dependent on the exaltation of "warrior values." It proceeded from a political concern 
to find a purpose for which the sacrifice of the dead soldiers could no longer be considered 
"useless." 

From 1926 onwards, Junger called tirelessly for the formation of an united front of nationalist 
groups and movements. At the same time, he sought — without notable success — to change them. 
For Junger too, nationalism must be alchemically "transmuted." It must be freed of any 
sentimental attachment to the old right and become revolutionary. It must take note of the 
decline of the bourgeois world apparent in the novels of Thomas Mann (Die Buddenbrooks) or 
Alfred Kubin (Die andere Seite). 

From this point of view, what is essential is the fight against liberalism. In Arminius and Der 
Vormarsch, Junger attacks the liberal order symbolized by the literati, the humanistic 
intellectuals who support an "anemic" society, the cynical internationalists whom Spengler sees 
as the true authors of the November Revolution and who claimed that the millions who perished 
in the Great War died for nothing. 

But at the same time, he stigmatizes the "bourgeois tradition" invoked by the nationalists and the 
members of the Stahlhelm, these "petit bourgeois (Spiessbiirger) who, because of the war, 
slipped into a lion's skin" (Der Vormarsch, December 1927). Tirelessly, he took on the 
Wilhelmine spirit, the worship of the past, the taste of the pan-Germanists for "museology" 
(musealer Betrieb). In March 1926, he coined the term "neonationalism," which he opposed to 
the "grandfather nationalism" (Altvaternationalismus). 

Junger defended Germany, but for him the nation is much more than a country. It is an idea: 



Germany is everywhere that this idea inflames the spirit. In April 1927, in Arminius Jiinger takes 
an implicitly nominalist position: he states that he no longer believes in any general truths, any 
universal morals, any notion of "mankind" as a collective being everywhere sharing the the same 
conscience and the same rights. "We believe," he says, "in the value of the particular" (Wir 
glauben an den Wert des Besonderen). 

At a time when the traditional right preached individualism against collectivism, when the 
volkisch groups were enthralled with the return to the earth and the mystique of "nature," Jiinger 
exalted technology and condemned the individual. Born from bourgeois rationality, he explains, 
in Arminius, all-powerful technology has now turned against those who engendered it. The more 
technological the world becomes, the more the individual disappears; neonationalism must be the 
first to learn this lesson. Moreover, it is in the great cities "that the nation will be won": for the 
national-revolutionists, "the city is a front." 

Around Jiinger a "Berlin group" soon formed, where representatives of various currents of the 
Conservative Revolution met: Franz Schauwecker and Helmut Franke; the writer Ernst von 
Solomon; the Nietzschean anti-Christian Friedrich Hielscher, editor of Das Reich; the 
neoconservatives August Winnig (whom Jiinger first met in the autumn of 1927 via the 
philosopher Alfred Baeumler) and Albrecht Erich Giinther, co-editor with Wilhelm Stapel of 
Deutsches Volkstum; the national-Bolsheviks Ernst Niekisch and Karl O. Paetel; and of course 
Friedrich Georg Jiinger, Ernst Jiinger's younger brother, who was also a recognized theorist. 

Friedrich Georg Jiinger, whose own development is of great importance to that of his elder 
brother, was born in Hanover on September 1, 1898. His career closely paralleled his brother's. 
He too volunteered for the Great War; in 1916 he saw combat on the Somme and became the 
leader of his squad. In 1917 he was seriously wounded on the front in Flanders and spent several 
months in military hospitals. He returned to Hanover at the end of the hostilities, and after a brief 
period as a lieutenant in the Reichswehr, in 1920 he decided to study law, defending his doctoral 
dissertation in 1924. 

From 1926 on, he regularly contributed articles to the journals in which his brother collaborated: 
Die Standarte, Arminius, Der Vormarsch, etc., and published in the collection Der Aufmarsch, 
edited by Ernst Jiinger, a short essay entitled "Aufmarsch des Nationalismus" (Der Aufmarsch, 
Foreword by Ernst Jiinger, Berlin, 1926; 2nd ed., Berlin: Vormarsch, 1928). He was influenced 
by Nietzsche, Sorel, Klages, Stefan George, and Rilke, whom he frequently quoted and to whom 
he dedicated a volume of his own poetry. The first study published on him, Franz Josef 
Schoningh, "Friedrich Georg Jiinger und der preussische Stil," in Hochland, February 1935, 
476-77, connects him to the "Prussian style." 

Note 

1. Cf. Henri Plard, "Une oeuvre retrouvee d'Ernst Jiinger: Sturm (1923)," Etudes germaniques, 
October-December 1968, 600-615. 



PART 3 
In April 1928, Ernst Jiinger entrusted the editorship of Der Vormarsch to his friend Friedrich 



Hielscher. Hielscher edited Der Vormarsch for a few months, after which the journal, published 
by Fritz Sohlmann, came under the control of the Jungdeutscher Orden (Jungdo) and took a 
completely different direction. On Hielscher, to whom he was very attached (and whom he called 
"Bodo" or "Bogo" in its notebooks), Junger once said that he presented a curious "mixture of 
rationalism and naivete." 

Born on May 31st, 1902 in Guben, after the Great War he joined the Freikorps, then he became 
involved in the bundisch movement, in particular the Freischar Schill of Werner Lass. In 1928, 
he published a doctoral thesis, Die Selbstherrlichkeit [Self-glory] (Berlin: Vormarsch, 1928), in 
which he sought to define the foundations of a German right based on Nietzsche, Spengler, and 
Max Weber. Moreover, he was, along with his friend Gerhard von Tevenar, passionate about 
"European social-regionalism" and sought to coordinate the actions of regionalist and separatist 
movements to create a "Europe of the fatherlands" on a federal model. Also influenced by the 
thought of Eriugena, Meister Eckart, Luther, Shakespeare, and Goethe, he wrote a "political 
theology of the Empire" entitled Das Reich (Berlin: Das Reich, 1931) and founded a small 
neopagan church that sometimes brought him closer to the volkisch movement. 

Under the Third Reich, Hielscher played a directing role in the research services of the 
Ahnenerbe, while he and his students maintained close contact with the "inner emigration." The 
Hitlerian regime reproached him in particular for "philosemitism" (cf. Das Reich, p. 332), 
ordering his arrest in September 1944. Thrown in prison, Hielscher escaped death only because 
of the intervention of Wolfram Sievers. After the war Hielscher published his autobiography 
Funfzig Jahre unter Deutschen [Fifty Years under Germans] (Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1954), but the 
majority of its writings (the "liturgy" of his neopagan church, a verse version of the 
Nibelungenlied, etc.) remain unpublished. On its role in resistance against Hitler, see Rolf Kluth, 
"Die Widerstandgruppe Hielscher" ["The Hielscher Resistance Group"], Puis, December 7, 
1980,22-27. 

A few months later, in January 1930, Junger became co-editor with Werner Lass of Die 
Kommenden [The Coming], the weekly newspaper founded five years before by the writer 
Wilhelm Kotzde, who then had a great influence over the bundisch youth movement, particularly 
the tendency that had evolved toward National Bolshevism, with Hans Ebeling and especially 
Karl O. Paetel, who simultaneously collaborated on Die Kommenden, as well as Die 
sozialistische Nation [The Socialistic Nation] and Antifaschistische Briefe [Anti-Fascist Letters]. 

Regarded as one of the principal representatives, with Ernst Niekisch, of German National 
Bolshevism, Karl O. Paetel was born in Berlin on November 23rd, 1906. Bundisch, then national 
revolutionary, he adopted National Bolshevism about 1930. From 1928 to 1930 he edited the 
monthly magazine Dasjunge Volk [The Young People]. From 1931 to 1933 he published the 
journal Die sozialistische Nation. 

Imprisoned several times after Hitler's rise to power, in 1935 Paetel went to Prague, then 
Scandinavia. In 1939, he was stripped of his German nationality and condemned to death in 
absentia. Interned in French concentration camps between January and June 1940, he escaped, 
reached Portugal, and finally settled in New York in January 1941. 

In the United States, he publishes from 1946 on the newspaper Deutsche Blatter [German 
Pages]. The same year, with Carl Zuckmayer and Dorothy Thompson, published a collection of 



documents on the "inner emigration": Deutsche innere Emigration. Dokumente unci Beitrage. 
Antinationalsozialistische Zeugnisse aus Deutschland [German Inner Emigration. Documents 
and Contributions. Anti-National Socialist Testimonies from Germany] (New York: Friedrich 
Krause, 1946). 

He also devoted several essays to Junger: Ernst Junger. Die Wandlung eines deutschen Dichters 
und Patrioten [Ernst Junger: The Transformation of a German Poet and Patriot] (New York: 
Friedrich Krause, 1946); Ernst Junger. Weg und Wirkung. Eine Einfuhrung [Ernst Junger: Way 
and Influence. An Introduction] (Stuttgart, 1949); Ernst Junger. Eine Bibliographic [Ernst 
Junger: A Bibliography] (Stuttgart: Lutz and Meyer, 1953); Ernst Junger in Selbstzeugnissen 
und Bilddokumenten [Ernst Junger in his Own Words and Pictures] (Reinbek near Hamburg: 
Rowohlt, 1962). 

After having launched a new newspaper, Deutsche Gegenwart [Geman Present] (1947-1948), 
Paetel returned to Germany in 1949 and continued to publish a great number of works. 
Decorated in 1968 with the Bundesverdienstkreuz [Federal Service Cross], he died on May 4th, 
1975. His personal papers are today in part in the archives of the Jugendbewegung (Burg 
Ludwigstein, Witzenhausen) and in part in the "Karl O. Paetel Collection" of the State 
University of New York, Albany. On Paetel, see his history of National Bolshevism: Versuchung 
oder Chance? Zur Geschichte of the deutschen Nationalbolschewismus [Temptation or Chance? 
Toward a History of German National Bolshevism] (Gottingen: Musterschmid, 1965) and his 
posthumous autobiography, published by Wolfgang D. Elfe and John M. Spalek: Reise ohne 
Urzeit. Autobiography [Journey without Beginning: Autobiography] (London: World of Books 
and Worms: Georg Heintz, 1982). 

Junger also collaborated on the journal Widerstand [Resistance] founded and edited by Niekisch 
since July 1926. The two men met in the autumn of 1927, and a true friendship is quickly rose 
between them. Junger wrote: "If one wants to put the program that Niekisch developed in 
Widerstand in terms of stark alternatives, it would be something like this: against the bourgeois 
for the worker, against the western world for the east." Indeed, National Bolshevism, which has 
multiple tendencies and varieties, joins the idea of class struggle to a communitarian, if not 
collectivist, idea of the nation. "Collectivization," affirms Niekisch, "is the social form that the 
organic will must adopt if it is to affirm itself vis-a-vis the fatal effects of technology" 
("Menschenfressende Technik" ["Man-Eating Technology"] in Widerstand, 4, 1931). According 
to Niekisch, in the final analysis, the national movement and the communist movement have the 
same adversary, as the fight against the occupation of the Ruhr appeared to demonstrate, and this 
is why the two "proletarian nations" of Germany and Russia must strive for an understanding. 
"The liberal democratic parliamentarian flees from decision," declared Niekisch. "He does not 
want to fight, but to talk. . . . The Communist wants a decision. ... In his roughness, there is 
something of the hardness of the military camp; in him there is more Prussian hardness than he 
knows, even more than in a Prussian bourgeois" ("Entscheidung" ["Decision"], Widerstand, 
Berlin, 1930, p. 134). These ideas influenced a considerable portion of the national revolutionary 
movement. Junger himself, as seen by Louis Dupeux, was "fascinated by the problems of 
Bolshevism" — but was never a National Bolshevik in the strict sense. 

In July of 1931, Werner Lass and Junger withdrew from Die Kommenden. In September, Lass 
founded the journal Der Umsturz [Overthrow], which he made the organ of the Freischar Schill 
and which, until its disappearance in February 1933, openly promoted National Bolshevism. But 



Jiinger was in a very different frame of mind. In the space of a few years, using a whole series of 
journals as so many walls for sticking up posters — it was, as he would write, a milk train, "that 
one gets on and gets off along the way" — he traversed the whole field of his properly political 
evolution. The watchwords he had formulated did not have the success that he hoped for; his 
calls for unity were not heard. For some time, Jiinger felt estranged from all political currents. He 
had no more sympathy for the rising National Socialism than for the traditional national leagues. 
All the national movements, he explained in an article of Suddeutsche Monatshefte [South 
German Monthly] (September 1930, 843-45), be they traditionalist, legitimist, economist, 
reactionary, or National Socialist, draw their inspiration from the past, and, in this respect, are 
"liberal" and "bourgeois." Divided between the neoconservatives and the National Bolsheviks, 
the national revolutionary groups no longer commanded respect. In fact, Jiinger no longer 
believed in the possibility of collective action. (In the first version of The Adventurous Heart, 
Jiinger wrote: "Today one can no longer make collective efforts for Germany" [p. 153]). As 
Niekisch was to emphasize in his autobiography (Erinerrungen eines deutschen Revolutiondrs 
[Memories of a German Revolutionary] [Cologne: Wissenschaft u. Politik, 1974, vol. I, p. 191), 
Jiinger intended to trace a more personal and interior way of dealing with the current situation. 
"Jiinger, this perfect Prussian officer who subjects himself to the hardest discipline," wrote 
Marcel Decombis, "would never again be able to fit in a collectivity" {Ernst Jiinger 
[Sap wood-Montaigne, 1943]). His brother, who had abandoned his legal career in 1928, evolved 
in the same direction. He wrote on Greek poetry, the American novel, Kant, Dostoyevsky. The 
two brothers undertook a series of voyages: Sicily (1929), the Balearic Islands (1931), Dalmatia 
(1932), the Aegean Sea. 

Ernst and Friedrich Georg Jiinger continued, certainly, to publish some articles, particularly in 
Widerstand. (In total, Ernst Jiinger published eleven articles in Standarte, twenty-eight in 
Arminius, twelve in Der Vormarsch, and eighteen in Widerstand. Like his brother, he 
collaborated on Widerstand until its prohibition, in December 1934.) But the properly 
journalistic period of their engagement was over. Between 1929 and 1932, Ernst Jiinger 
concentrated all his efforts on new books, starting with the first version of Das abenteuerliche 
Herz {The Adventurous Heart, 1929), then the essay "Die totale Mobilmachung" ("Total 
Mobilization," 1931), and finally Der Arbeiter. Herrschaft und Gestalt {The Worker: 
Domination and Figure), published in 1932 in Hamburg by the Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt of 
Benno Ziegler and reprinted many times before 1945.